By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain opened its tennis season last week and was shut out by a pair of Mountain Seven Conference opponents.
Pisgah won 9-0 Aug. 23 in Canton, and North Henderson won 8-0 two days later at Mark Watson Park. The #3 doubles match against North was not played.
Singles results against Pisgah, all won by the Sugar Bears, included:
#1 – Sara Parrott over Anneka Abbott 10-0.
#2 – Kristi Shuford over Addison Cowan 10-8.
#3 – Gracyn Mills over Abigail Stanberry 10-4.
#4 – Kennedy Barker over Emma Jutte 10-0.
#5 – Heather Robinson over Allie Russotti 10-1.
#6 – Kara Mehaffey over Rebecca Welch 10-0.
Doubles results against Pisgah, all won by the Sugar Bears, included:
#1 – Parrott/Mills over Abbott/Stanberry 8-0.
#2 – Barker/Robinson over Cowan/Jutte 8-2.
#3 – Kathryn Belham/Emma Tiller over Russotti/Welch 8-1.
“Pisgah is always a solid team,” Coach Ashley Doolin said. “They are very consistent and play competitive tennis.”
She said Cowan and Stanberry “put up a good fight” in singles play. She noted that Cowan battled back after falling behind early.
“She has a great attitude, is very coachable, and always gives it her all,” Doolin said. “We’re excited to see all the things she will accomplish this season.”
The coach said Stanberry faced a returning top six opponent for Pisgah.
“She battled out some long points and played with a good mindset,” Doolin said. “She spent time working over the off-season and continues to work hard in practice.”
She said Russotti and Welch played well considering that they were playing their first career matches.
Singles results against North, all won by the Lady Knights, included:
#1 – Grace Townsend over Abbott 10-2.
#2 – Viviana Smith over Cowan 10-2.
#3 – Hailey Glaspy over Stanberry 10-2.
#4 – Ariana Johnson over Jutte 10-5.
#5 – Arely Chavez over Russotti 10-2.
#6 – Lizbet Roman over Welch 10-4.
Doubles results against North, both won by the Lady Knights, included:
#1 – Smith/Glaspy over Cowan/Stanberry 8-4.
# 2 – Townsend/Emma Michna over Abbott/Jutte 8-2.
Doolin said her players showed improvement from the first match.
“They all seemed to play smarter tennis, using strategy and incorporating different shots into game play,” she said. “They played more offensive tennis, allowing them to take more games in their individual matches than against Pisgah.”
She singled out Jutte for her play.
“There were several long points and well-played rallies,” Doolin said. “With (spring and fall) seasons back-to-back, Jutte is technically still in her ‘first year’ of tennis. She’s a very coachable athlete and her game play has come a long way. She tries hard and wants to win – both traits which will take her far this season.”
The coach said Welch also battled hard.
“I have never had an athlete to be as devoted to practice as Welch,” Doolin said. “She works hard in practice and puts in extra work throughout the week outside of practice.”
Doolin said she liked the pairing of Cowan and Stanberry at #1 doubles.
“As for coaches, all we can do is seek improvement from match to match, and the girls are giving us that so far,” Doolin said. “Hopefully, we can continue to grow, develop and get a team win under our belt sooner rather than later.”